Marines Workout Program

A uniform for the USMC in a store window display.

The United States Marine Corps (USMC) has a well-deserved reputation for tough, effective physical fitness training (PT). With the core belief that “every Marine is a rifleman first,” the Marines make it a point to ensure that they are ready to go to war and have the physical prowess to survive and thrive.

The USMC focuses its basic PT program on body weight calisthenics. This is because of the large numbers of individuals that have to be trained simultaneously during unit PT. Participating in similar exercises can provide you the same level of prowess the Marines possess.

Young man performing press-ups

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Do push-ups. Lie face down on the ground with your palms on the surface. Push your body weight up until your arms are extended and locked, then lower yourself until your upper arms are parallel to the floor. Keep your back and legs straight throughout. The push-up develops strength and endurance in the chest, shoulders, and arms. It is the foundation of all military PT programs. Perform multiple sets of 25 to 30 repetitions for as long as possible, until you reach temporary muscle failure (TMF).

Young woman exercising on the floor

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Perform sit-ups to strengthen your abdominal muscles and core. Lie on your back, knees bent at 45 to 90 degrees, with a partner holding your feet against the floor. Sit up until your upper body is perpendicular to the ground, and then lower yourself back to a supine position. Perform 30 to 40 repetitions for as many sets as possible, until you reach TMF. As a 19-year old Marine, you will be expected to complete 100 crunch-style sit-ups in order to obtain a max score on the Marine Corps Physical Fitness Test.

Senior man doing a chin-up

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Grasp a pull-up/chin-up bar with both hands and pull your body weight upward until your chin is well above the bar. Lower yourself back down until your arms are straight, and then repeat. Do not “kip” or use momentum to get up. Perform as many reps as possible during each workout. The USMC expects a 19-year old male to complete 20 of these “dead-hang” pull-ups in order to score 100 percent on the Physical Fitness Test.

Woman running along coastline,  California,  USA

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Run daily. Do short and long runs ranging from two miles up to eight miles at least five days per week. Work on developing your speed at the same time as you develop your endurance by adding intervals of sprinting into your daily runs. In order to score the maximum possible number of points on the USMC Physical Fitness Test, a 19-year old male needs to complete a three-mile run in 18 minutes.


Although the push-up event is no longer a part of the USMC Physical Fitness Test, it is highly recommended that you practice and develop your push-up strength. All Marines are expected to be able to do push-ups and they are a familiar part of Marine Corps life.


Please consult a physician prior to engaging in any new exercise regimen.